ACCORDING to Trump’s former advisor, Steve Bannon, the President of the USA is not a racist.

Despite the horrors of domestic terrorism that has engulfed America, Bannon is out batting for his old buddy and trying to take the heat out of the populist policies he’s pushed from the shadows, which have caused so much division and hatred. He argues that there is no link between Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric or draconian immigration stance and violence against minorities. Instead, Bannon blames the radical left for the rise in racism since Trump took up residence in the White House.

You couldn’t make it up.

However, something tells me that while this might wash with die-hard Trumpians, the rest of America and indeed, the world is not so easily duped. Behind the sleight of hand, cracks are appearing in the great populist puppet master’s show. Bannon’s increasingly looking rather desperate as he tries to distract from reality and fact, with bluster and blame. This recent statement is a case in point. Who is he actually kidding? Even his recent foray into the UK mainstream media with his unchallenging interview on the BBC played out against a backdrop of the US-Mexico border, American flags and armoured vehicles all seemed a little over the top, almost pantomime. Could it be that time is running out for Bannon’s grand political project and he’s throwing everything he’s got at the window of opportunity as it closes?

He’s certainly been busy in Europe these past two years, adopting the same methodology employed while he was the President’s advisor, a style of almost anti-politics, a dumbing down, them-and-us rhetoric which has so damaged public discourse in America. We’re now seeing the same dark art being played out in the UK, as he pulls Boris Johnson’s strings encouraging inflammatory statements designed to attract and bolster bigotry and prejudice. Bannon likes to spot an angry gap in the market and fill it.

In this case, gathering up the marginalised and disenfranchised, selling them a story of a dastardly liberal elite, who have allegedly allowed their country and traditions to be diluted with uncontrolled immigration and over-the-top tolerance of contemporary society.

Unfortunately, this populist propaganda has struck a chord with certain voters. Just look at the current state of politics in the UK, with Johnson as PM and his cabinet of full-on right-wingers and his adoption of a No Deal Brexit threat to the EU and the Irish backstop. Britain’s future as a “united kingdom”, as a friend to Europe and as an important world player, is on a shoogly peg.

READ MORE: Britain 2019: Run by extremists and in cahoots with Donald Trump

This is all part of the grand plan. Because what lurks beneath Bannon’s modus operandi is a desire to raze everything we know and take for granted, to the ground, to break down all the traditional political power structures and rebuild to suit a small, influential elite. Quite what he plans to do after the breakdown is less apparent – for Bannon it’s the journey not the destination.

His recent wildly inaccurate comments about Trump are no coincidence. He needs to up the ante to take advantage of a closing window of time. It’s just over a year until the next Presidential election, and it’s just a couple of months until Brexit D-Day at Halloween. His political vision could yet be scuppered. Trump might not squeeze through in 2020 in the same way he did back in 2016.

The National: Donald Trump will have to battle to keep his presidency in the 2020 US electionDonald Trump will have to battle to keep his presidency in the 2020 US election

In the three years since The Donald bamboozled his way into the White House, the world has undergone an accelerated understanding of just how much our buttons have been pressed by shadowy forces micro-targeting through social media. You’d have to have been living on the moon not to have heard about our data being collected on a vast scale, without our permission and without our knowledge, and subsequently used (allegedly) to manipulate and entice.

When the opportunity to vote comes up again, will the global electorate be so easily fooled? Could the UK be pulled back from the brink of a No Deal Brexit, with Johnson consigned to the dustbin of history, a mere blip or pawn? Bannon knows he needs to act fast and put his efforts into making the most of the time he has left to re-work the world order.

No matter the outcome, his behind the scenes work has lowered the tone of public discourse. Because those he, Trump, Johnson and Farage have reached, those they’ve enlisted into their lowest common denominator politics, don’t care about the “Go Home” racism, the association with white-supremacists, the misogyny and debasing of women, the mocking of other cultures, and lack of respect for human rights. Their prejudice has been verified by those at the very top of the tree.

But beyond the doom and gloom, there is an opportunity here to stand up to bullies like Bannon and his backward buddies. If he’s succeeded in partly dismantling the world order, could a progressive, inclusive movement plug the gaping chasm created by his insidious schemes? Could a new politics step into this breach and create a positive environment for growth that reaches out to those who feel angry and abandoned?

Instead of being left behind and shut out of conversations on their future, new democratic means for education and involvement such as citizens assemblies, for instance, will be crucial to rehabilitation and healing divisions. In the same way, social media giants must be much more accountable, and adapt and develop a means to combat the bubbles that insulate society from the truth. It’s this kind of education and engagement that Bannon fears. If you replace the myths he peddles with empirical information and objective research, the blindfold of bigotry falls away.

Action is needed now, before time runs out. Just as Bannon wheels himself out to the media to expound his nasty propaganda to reach a wider audience, the political organisations and figureheads that oppose his negativity need to build on the disgust many feel at his base rhetoric and find new ways of getting their message out and heard by wider audiences.

The old order isn’t working for anyone anymore. Perhaps it never did. But without an alternative vision to Bannon’s chaos, greed and divisive populism, we may look back on the early years of the 21st century as a time of blissful ignorance. Bannon meanwhile will be out of sight and mind, laughing all the way to the bank. More fool us.